My previous boss was the bad apple in the company, but to him, it looked like it was me…
The Depressive Pessimist will complain that the task that they’re doing isn’t enjoyable, and make statements doubting the group’s ability to succeed.
It wasn’t enjoyable because it was always bound to end in failure. He would ask constantly if it was enjoyable. I think he was trying to get us to lie to spare his feelings, thinking that if we said it enough, we would start to believe it. I’m not a spare-the-feelings kinda guy when it’s designed to mask incompetence, let alone when it’s designed to set me up as a fall guy for it. Take it on the chin or improve yourself.
Doubting our ability to succeed wasn’t pessimism, it was experience. We managed one job on time and on budget, ever, and only then because it was something he couldn’t interfere in. Productivity shot up by about 50% or so whenever he took holiday (we measured). I had to make statements doubting our ability to succeed because the boss was running around telling clients no problem, we’ll have that done by the end of the week when it was a fortnight’s work and we had other jobs to do in the meantime. Allowing him to do that unchecked would make it worse.
The Jerk will say that other people’s ideas are not adequate, but will offer no alternatives himself. He’ll say ‘you guys need to listen to the expert: me.’
Again, I said this often, but I was right. He’d want us to take every quick-and-dirty option he ever came across, and expect elegant behaviour from the code. His ideas weren’t adequate. He did need to listen to me, and I was the expert. I did offer alternatives, but as they were always involved more time and expense, I’m sure they were as good as no alternative in his eyes. He certainly never took any notice.
The Slacker will say ‘whatever’, and ‘I really don’t care.’
Two years of the above, working huge overtime for little pay, slowly getting worse as the business failed with him at the helm, constantly taking the wrap for his incompetence, and you’d be pretty jaded too. All I wanted to do was get stuck into my work and keep it going - he made it absolutely impossible, had no idea he was doing so, and then wanted to have Friday hour-long meetings for the sole purpose of being able to say proactive a lot. I really didn’t care for pointless bullshit, but especially so when there was a week’s worth of work to do before Monday.
So, who was the bad apple? If you have someone who you think is a bad apple, how do you know that it’s not a perception forced by circumstance? What if he’s right?
I’m out of there now (working with a great team for employers who absolutely rock!), and lo and behold - I am no longer pessimistic, I’m surrounded by ideas that I don’t need to shoot down as inadequate, I care a lot and am valued as an employee. It ain’t rocket science.